Two old rivals battled it out once again on the links this weekend.
The Bulldogs took second place at the Lehigh Invitational in Saucon Valley, Pa., finishing with a team score of 653. Harvard finished in first place in the eight-team field, shooting 639 for the weekend. The tournament was marked by difficult playing conditions and high scores Saturday, which were reversed Sunday.
The silver lining for the Bulldogs came from two strong individual performances — one from captain Ellie Brophy ’08 and the other from Lindsay Hong ’08, who both finished tied for third at 163. Brophy and Hong are no strangers to individual success this season, with each having claimed an individual crown at a tournament, Brophy at the Rutgers Invitational and Hong at the Yale Invitational.
The team was coming off successful events at Rutgers and Yale, where the Elis placed second and first respectively, and Brophy said the team hoped to carry that momentum into this weekend’s tournament. Other competitors this weekend included Ivy League foes Penn and Brown, as well as Georgetown, Lehigh and Siena.
Harvard had already beaten Yale at the Princeton Invitational; Yale returned the favor, taking advantage of some advantage at the Yale Invitational three weeks ago. The two rivals met again on the links this weekend for another showdown that ultimately decided the top two spots in the tournament.
The teams saw uneven conditions Saturday, which led to high scores across the field. The rainstorm that came through New Haven last Friday also hit, leaving parts of the course muddy. Natasha Spackey ’09 said the rainstorm left tricky conditions in its wake.
“It was very windy the first day, causing us to have a tougher time hitting greens,” she said.
Once on the course, the undulating greens played slick, with at least one player recording a five-putt, Brophy said. She said two pin placements, at the 5th and 16th holes, had to be changed because of their challenging positions on the downslopes of what were already tough greens.
The Bulldogs battled though the tough conditions and finished Saturday with a team score of 328, only two strokes behind Harvard. Hong managed the second best round of the day Saturday, finishing with a 9-over 81. Spackey and Cassie Boles ’11 also shot strong rounds of 82 to keep the Elis in position.
The conditions were better Sunday, as sunny conditions and calmer winds precipitated lower scores across the entire field. Brophy managed the third lowest score for the round with a 7-over 79. Hong continued her strong play, finishing with an 82, a score that was matched by teammates Boles and Taylor Lee ’10.
With these improved performances, the women bettered their Saturday score by three strokes and finished with an overall score of 653.
Harvard, however, also improved its score dramatically Sunday. Claire Sheldon shot a 1-over 73 on Sunday to score by far the best round of the tournament and to help her win medalist honors for the weekend, finishing the tournament at an 11-over 155.
Her great play was accompanied by that of teammate Ali Bode, who shot an 80 on Sunday and finished the tournament shooting an 18-over 162 to claim second place. The Crimson finished 14 strokes ahead of Yale, with 12 of those strokes coming Sunday.
While the course at Lehigh was certainly challenging, Hong said the conditions were not responsible for the Bulldog’s struggles Sunday. The Yale course they practice on is just as difficult, if not more so, than the Weyhill Course at Saucon Valley, she said. Instead, Hong suggested, unfamiliarity with the course was the cause of any Bulldog struggles this weekend.
“There were many nuances [to the course] that I think only someone who plays it a lot would know about,” she said.
As the Bulldogs move forward, they will need to put together better consistency from round to round, Brophy said.
“We are definitely going in the right direction,” she said. “We can’t be too disappointed.”